The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is among the strongest card options for earning straight cash back. The card offers huge value with it's high earning bonus categories of 6% cash back at supermarkets and 3% cash back at gas stations.
However, American Express has updated the card's application page to show that the annual fee will be increasing to $95 when you apply for the card after 8/3/16.
If you apply for the card before then you will still qualify for the $75 annual fee version, however at this point it's unknown if you'll be grandfathered in past the first year.
Annual Fee Increasing to $95
Currently the annual fee on AMEX Blue Cash Preferred Card is $75, but when you apply after 8/3/2016 the annual fee on the card will increase to $95.
If you're counting on maximizing your cash back earnings from the card's bonus spending categories this means you'll have to spend more per year to offset the annual fee.
For instance, currently it only requires $1,250 of spending at grocery stores (6% cash back) to payback the $75 annual fee. However, with the increased $95 annual fee it will take ~$1,583 of spending per year.
The upcoming higher annual fee essentially brings the cards net cash back earning at grocery stores to 4.42% vs. the current 4.75% (with lower $75 annual fee).
Blue Cash Preferred Card Benefits
The main selling point of the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred Card is it's high bonus category cash back earning structure.
The card has the following rewards earning structure:
- 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 per year (1% after that).
- 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
The Bottom Line
Although not a complete deal breaker, if you've been considering applying for the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred Card it may be worth doing so before 8/3/2016 to avoid paying the higher annual fee.
Once the $95 annual fee change kicks in on new applications, the draw to the card will certainly be less for people who don't maximize the 6X and 3X bonus categories. It will also make the no annual fee AMEX Blue Cash Everyday Card more appealing for those who are not big bonus category spenders.
There is no announcement thus far if existing cardholders and new cardmembers who apply before 8/3/2016 will be grandfathered in past the first year of card membership.